The Park of Science and Technology is to be established at NUST

science-&-technology-park

The first science and technology park was created on the campus of Stanford University more that 50 year ago. It has transformed the Silicon Valley area from one of the poorest regions in the USA into a global centre of technology, finance, education and research.

Since the inception of Silicon Valley, the high-tech cluster phenomenon has seized the imagination of public policy makers. Hundreds of similar high-tech clusters have been created in various parts of the world, and their numbers continue to grow as the cluster formation is increasingly adopted as an important economic development tool and as an integrated part of the national or regional innovation system. The cluster is attractive for many reasons. It catalyses economic transformation, drives growth, enhances stability and looks a good bet for economic success.

Several official definitions of science and technology park have been adopted by different organizations.

– The official definition adopted by the International Association of Science Parks (IASP) in February 2002 goes as follows. A science park is an organization managed by specialised professionals, whose main aim is to increase the wealth of its community by promoting the culture of innovation and the competitiveness of its associated businesses and knowledge-based institutions. To enable these goals to be met, a science park stimulates and manages the flow of knowledge and technology amongst universities, R&D institutions, companies and markets; it facilitates the creation and growth of innovation-based companies through incubation and spin-off processes; and provides other value-added services together with high quality space and facilities. IASP’s definition also goes on to say that the expression “science park” may be replaced in this definition by the expressions “technology park”, “technopole” or “research park”.

– According to the United Kingdom Science Park Association (UKSPA), a science park is a business support and technology transfer initiative that:

  • Encourages and supports the start-up and incubation of innovation-led, high-growth, knowledge-based businesses.
    • Provides an environment where larger and international businesses can develop specific and close interactions with a particular centre of knowledge creation for their mutual benefit.
    • Has formal and operational links with centres of knowledge creation such as universities, higher education institutes and research organisations.

– The American Association of University Research Parks defines research parks as property-based ventures, yet its definition is more explicit about a number of features of its parks, and includes the following elements:

  • They are master planned property and buildings designed primarily for private/public research and development facilities, high technology and science based companies, and support services.

There is:

    • A contractual, formal or operational relationship with one or more science/research institutions of higher education.
    • A role in promoting the university’s research and development through industry partnerships, assisting in the growth of new ventures and promoting economic development.
    • A role in aiding the transfer of technology and business skills between university and industry teams.
    • A role in promoting technology-led economic development for the community or region.

The term “science and technology park” encompasses any kind of high-tech cluster such as: technopolis, science park, science city, cyber park, hi tech (industrial) park, innovation centre, R&D park, university research park, research and technology park, science and technology park, science city, science town, technology park, technology incubator, technology park, technopark, technopole and technology business incubator. However, it is worth noting that there are slight differences between some of these terms. For example, experience suggests that there is difference between a technology business incubator, science park or research park, science city, technopolis and regional innovation system.

Some might argue that discussing definitions is an exercise in semantics, but a fuller understanding of the different variants of parks (as well as the type and size of the tenant companies that these might attract) is important in considering physical planning. For example, if it is a realistic possibility that a park will attract a large facility of a substantial corporation, then the master plan should reflect this scenario. Also, if a park with an incubator is located close to a centre of research (rather than in a remote location), there is a good chance of a number of spin off companies being formed. In this case, it would be sensible to provide “grow on space” so that successful companies can move on and release space for new entrants while retaining their existing links with supplier and customer networks.

In terms of size, parks range from those which are essentially city centre incubators to large tracts of urban or suburban land which not only offer incubation space, but also accommodation for companies at very different stages of maturity. Further variety exists in the technologies they support, with some focusing on one technology while others cover most.

On-site management can vary from a lone manager to a full team of experts; however, the larger the team, the greater the overhead and, unless these costs are subsidized, this kind of burden can make a park an unattractive location for cost-conscious companies.

The AURP also notes that “a park may be a not-for-profit or for-profit entity owned wholly or partially by a university or a university related entity. Alternatively, the park may be owned by a non-university entity but have a contractual or other formal relationship with a university, including joint or cooperative ventures between a privately developed research park and a university.” Again, this acknowledges a breadth of interests in these projects.

Despite this variety in the type and nature of science and technology parks, these projects tend to be on relatively discrete sites; however, their activities can have a significant regional impact. In contrast to these local initiatives, some regions and cities have taken the much wider view of trying to create wealth from science and technology by re-branding their location and putting in place policies and development strategies in response to the technological revolution, the global economy and the importance of information in the economy.

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